Cost Accounting in Local Government

Service Fees

Costing Recreation Services

As part of a Cost of Services Study we are usually asked to provide the full cost of Recreation services and then make recommendations to adjust these fees.  But, as there is a direct connection between the costs and the resulting fees for most other departments in a city, identifying the full costs of Recreation […]

Comprehensive or Targeted Fee Study

There are two different approaches to doing a Fee Study.  You can either do a comprehensive study that involves the entire organization or do a more targeted approach that just reviews departments with a large amount of fee revenues.  There are pros and cons to each approach. Comprehensive Fee Study The main benefit of this […]

Cost Studies

The same person who is credited with inventing accounting, Luca Pacioli, an Italian mathematician from the 15th century, is also credited with inventing cost accounting. Where “regular” accounting is important for financial statements, cost accounting is essential for determining what products cost and how they should be priced. In large private sector companies, there are […]

Government as a Business

Is the idea of Government operating like a business past its time?

Next Steps After a Fee Update

What should a City do after completing a Fee Study and before the next Fee Study

Fee Increases in Between Cost Studies

When I first started doing Cost Studies, cities were unlikely to know the cost of their services let alone charge what the services cost. The most common approach, when fee increases were considered necessary, was to compare the city’s fees with neighboring cities, which I called the “blind leading the blind” update. Later, as cost […]

Are Credit Card Processing Fees for You?

For many years the credit card industry vigorously fought against any effort to charge a processing fee to use a credit card.  Credit card companies fought the same battles against processing fees charged by government as they did against private businesses.  But as more and more government agencies started accepting credit cards for payment for […]

Available versus Billable Hours – Redux

Nine years ago, I wrote the following article. Since the concepts are just as relevant today, I’m reprinting it with some editorial changes to make it more current. Enjoy… On page 31 of the League of California Cities publication “Cost Accounting for California Cities (1981),” we (I was one of the authors) proposed an early […]

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